The No. 4 Virginia Lacrosse team welcomes the No. 12 Syracuse Orange to Charlottesville Sunday for the first ACC game of the 2018 season. It’s always madness when Syracuse and Virginia meet on the lacrosse field, and in anticipation of another barn burner, we reached out to our friend Jim Simmons (@orangelax) at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician (@NunesMagician).
Check out my answers to his questions here.
Streaking the Lawn: Cuse is off to a 2-1 start this season. Is that about what you expected?
Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician: I expected either 3-0 or 2-1. I certainly wasn’t expecting the beatdown we took against Albany and I thought the play would have been better against Army. Looking ahead we have UVA, Johns Hopkins, Rutgers, Duke, and Notre Dame. Originally I thought during this stretch we would suffer but given the play of some of these teams I see a potential 3-2 record. This is by far the toughest stretch (including the Army and Albany games) that Syracuse has gone through in a very long time, and certainly one of the weakest offensive teams we’ve put on the field in that time too.
STL: Albany was able to come into the Dome and impose their will. What was the biggest issue for the Orange in that game?
TNIAAM: I mean take your pick of faceoffs, turnovers, groundballs, clears and penalties. Ultimately it was the lack of quality offensive possessions which I guess is a result of those things I listed. It’s hard to fault the defense though, I though they played that offensive juggernaut about as well as was possible. Honestly though, I was more disappointed in the first half against Army than I was during the Albany game. This team needs to find its identity on offense. The one positive, is that you’ve seen some of these young guys start to gain some footing, not to the extent that Virginia’s freshman have stepped up but it certainly has made an impact.
STL: Who is one player we should look out for on each side of the ball?
TNIAAM: Brendan Bomberry can be hit or miss at times. I said it in my preview but after watching the UVA defense I think he could have a big game on the interior. We really are still waiting for someone to take over leadership on the field though. Tyson Bomberry and Nick Mellen were both absent against Army last week. Mellen is, in my opinion, the best defenseman on this team but I love the dynamic ability of Tyson Bomberry (Tyson and Brendan are cousins). He is playing close defense after spending last year at the long stick midfielder position last year. His transition game can be deadly.
STL: Virginia has benefitted from a transfer, Justin Schwenk, at the X so far this season winning 67% of his attempts. How do you see that playing out during the game?
TNIIAM: Ha oh how the tables have turned. Syracuse is usually a huge beneficiary of transfers, Ben Williams at the face off X being the prime example. Schwenk was about middle of the pack at Monmouth but its hard to tell if that was the result of poor wing play. That being said, UVA’s opponents this year have been pretty bad at the X, especially Drexel which I believe is rocking a sub .300 win percentage. SU has transfer Seth Delisle and starter Danny Varello (brother of Navy’s face off guy Joe Varello), but both have really struggled in the past two games going 11-34. This is a make or break game for our two FOGOs but I think it will be a real measuring stick for Schwenk. Can he rise above the middle group of face off players or is he just playing well against bad opponents?
STL: The Hoos’ are averaging 15.5 goals per game, led by first year Ian Laviano with 10 goals and Michael Kraus with 10. Add in guys like Dox Aitken (9 goals) and Matt Moore (6 goals), and the offense is potent. How do you think Cuse handles that?
TNIAAM: The strength of Syracuse is at defense. The Orange have a slew of really good long poles. I think this is more of a question of getting good matchups against a shorty for Virginia. Mellen and Bomberry are fast so dodging against them is not going to be easy. We really found a good goalie in transfer Dom Madonna which has gone a long way. He’s been pretty solid in close.
STL: Prediction time: who ya got?
TNIAAM: This game comes down to face offs for SU, if the can’t find any traction we could see a three plus goal win for UVA. Ultimately though I have to go Syracuse 12-11
Huge thanks to Jim for taking the time out to answer our questions! Check Cuse-UVA at 3pm on ACC Network Extra.